It is not uncommon for there to be a disparity between regular cinema-goers and film critics, though given the assumption that film critics are more “harsh” and discerning than regular punters, it tends to be critics hating a movie that the general movie-going public enjoyed. Why else would Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen rake in so much money despite a risible Rotten Tomatoes score?
Occasionally, however, it will go the other way, and critics, with their broader mission – which will be to determine whether a film functions for the target audience at large – will praise a film that the series’ hardcore fans will nitpick into oblivion for betraying the source material.
By their nature, film critics are not fanboys about many franchises – at least not in a conventional way – so they may give a free pass to something that the hardcore fans see as a real problem. Here are 10 movies critics loved that fanboys hated…
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
RT Score: 78%. “Though the plot elements are certainly familiar, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still delivers the thrills and Harrison Ford’s return in the title role is more than welcome.”
Critics focused on the old-fashioned thrill of a Spielberg-Ford reunion for the first time in almost two decades, rather than the elements that fanboys (quite rightly) picked to pieces. Firstly, there’s the CGI overkill (even the prairie dog at the start is a visual effect!), then there’s Shia LaBoeuf swinging from vines like Tarzan, an alien-centric storyline that stretches credibility even for this series, and finally the words that make every Indiana Jones fan cringe – nuking the fridge.
RT Score: 74%. “Ridley Scott’s ambitious quasi-prequel to Alien may not answer all of its big questions, but it’s redeemed by its haunting visual grandeur and compelling performances — particularly Michael Fassbender as a fastidious android.”
Critics did at least acknowledge the fact that Prometheus didn’t deliver the answers it promised it would, though they on the whole saw it as a spectacular, superbly-acted thrill ride. It is often all of those things, but Alien fanboys just couldn’t help but attack the script, which is full of bizarre idiosyncracies that make it lesser than Alien and Aliens.
Fanboys lamented the stupid scientists taking their helmets off in uncharted territory, the fact that Charlize Theron’s character didn’t just run left or right away from the crashing derelict, that Idris Elba dies with basically no fanfare, and that we don’t see more of the logic as to how the proto-Xenomorph was born.
RT Score: 93%. “A kinetic and fun movie that’s sure to thrill children of all ages.”
Who would’ve thought that the guy who directed El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn and The Faculty would end up knocking out kids’ films in a seemingly interminable franchise? Critics nevertheless took to Spy Kids, expressing surprise at Rodriguez’s enthusiasm – he made it for his kids, apparently – while those wishing he’d just get on with another R-rated gore-fest found themselves completely dispirited, hating the film before they’d even bothered to see it (if they even did at all).
To add insult to injury, Rodriguez directed two more sequels right off the bat, and it wasn’t until 2003′s Once Upon a Time in Mexico that the director returned to familiar territory. Though Spy Kids is a fine film for kids, Rodriguez’s fanboys just felt that he should have been making something more consistent with his style rather than fanciful flicks like this that only alienate his core audience.
RT Score: 76%. “Bryan Singer’s reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation.”
This one actually isn’t that surprising. Superman Returns was if nothing else an unconventional Superman film; it wasn’t all about the riveting set-pieces, but rather it was a rare superhero film that was truly character-driven. As much as the film had Supes facing off against Lex Luthor, it was also concerned with his relationship with Lois Lane, and specifically the son that they have together.
One of the most existential superhero movies ever made, it sort of makes sense that critics would take to it – it is in many ways a comic book movie for people who don’t like the stereotypes associated with them (hyperactivity, lack of nuance, outlandishness).
Big fans of Supes, however, couldn’t stand the slow pace and lack of action (despite a 154-minute run-time). They wanted something more akin to the Richard Donner style, and given how well director Byran Singer fared on the X-Men films, there had been high hopes that he would similarly do justice to the Man of Steel.
The Matrix Reloaded.
RT Score: 73%. “A worthy sequel even if it is a little heady and less satisfying than the first Matrix.”
Critics did concede that Reloaded isn’t as good as the original Matrix, but on the whole they singled it out for its thrilling action sequences and exceptional visuals. Fans, though, weren’t quite so dazzled. With expectations being at a ridiculous, perhaps impossible high, The Matrix Reloaded was met with a divisive outlook from the fanboys; the action was largely praised, though the Agent Smiths vs. Neo Burly Brawl was ridiculed for its cheesy sound effects and ropey CGI, while the end of the film, which leaves viewers on tenterhooks with a crushing cliffhanger, was seen more as irritating than exciting.
The most common point of contention was the appearance of The Architect near the end of the film; fanboys continue to label him as “Colonel Sanders”, and his overly verbose speech to Neo was singled out as pretentious (a rare time where that word is used correctly and that criticism holds some weight).
Iron Man 3
RT Score: 90%. “With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and possibly one of Marvel’s best yet.”
It goes without saying that MILD IRON MAN 3 SPOILERS ARE AHEAD for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but the chasm of praise between critics and fanboys over this film has been one of the most startling in recent memory. Critics found it thrilling and hilarious; I spoke to fellow journalist who referred to it as a superhero film for people who don’t like them, as it subverts the conventions and basically broadens the genre out. That it certainly does, and the fanboys don’t like it one bit.
The main issue with Iron Man 3 is the twist regarding the character of The Mandarin, that he is not at all what he was in the comics, nor how he was presented to us in trailers. This might be fine for casual viewers who don’t know anything about The Mandarin, but you need only look at forums around the web to see the backlash that has hit against Marvel; those fans who were looking forward to an accurate portrayal are mad, especially as it seems like Shane Black went out of his way to swerve us, just for the sake of delivering a surprise.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
RT Score: 70%. “Although T3 never reaches the heights of the second movie, it is a welcome addition to the Terminator franchise.”
Again, without having that feverish attachment to the franchise that the fanboys do, critics largely found Terminator 3 to be an entertaining follow-up to T2 despite never getting anywhere near their level of depth and precision. Fanboys, though, aren’t so pragmatic, and speaking as a Terminator fanboy myself, I have to agree.
After the brilliant first two films, this feels like warmed up leftovers by comparison; the action doesn’t sizzle in the same way, and crucially, the humour veers away from the darkness of the first two towards silly camp (namely the Elton John glasses and “Talk to duh hand.”)
I’ve mellowed on the film over the last few years, but it’s still one I rarely watch. On the plus side, the subsequent release of the execrable Terminator Salvation – which was savaged by critics and fanboys alike – made me appreciate this one a lot more.
The Amazing Spiderman.
RT Score: 73%. “A well-chosen cast and sure-handed direction allow The Amazing Spider-Man to thrill, despite revisiting many of the same plot points from 2002′s Spider-Man.”
Fanboy reception on this one was enraged for a variety of reasons. Some simply didn’t like the new “gritty” aesthetic that’s a million miles away from what Sam Raimi aimed for, derisively mocking Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker as a “hipster” take on the character.
Others, like me, didn’t like ASM because it simply regurgitated the very same beats of the first Raimi film; the first hour of ASM is a total waste, and moreover, it just seems like a cynical way to do a reboot. Why not just start with Peter as Spidey, and if you really need to show us how he got the powers again, do it by way of sparse flashbacks throughout?
What we all really wanted was Spider-Man 4, but we got a pointless retread instead.
RT Score: 88%. “A mostly unqualified triumph for James Cameron, who offers a dizzying blend of spectacular visuals and old-fashioned melodrama.”
After crafting some of the best movies from the sci-fi and action genres – the first two Terminator films, Aliens and The Abyss – James Cameron’s dedicated legion of nerdy fanboys were gutted when he announced that he would be making a blockbuster disaster movie about the sinking of the Titanic…and it would be more a romance than a visceral action flick.
Though the sinking sequence is thrilling, it’s around an hour before the iceberg even hits, and it’s easy to see how those used to watching Cameron’s stellar action sequences might’ve gotten fed up with the Jack-Rose relationship drama by that point.
It’s fashionable to rip on the film despite its enormous success, which only accentuates the fanboy notion that it was not a worthy film for the director to be making.
RT Score: 93%. “Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that has infused director Martin Scorsese’s past triumphs.”
I love The Departed, and really, there’s only one subset of people who seem to actively despise it – the fans of the original Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. We all know people – probably ourselves included, if we’re honest about it – who get het up about beloved films being remade, though The Departed is admittedly one example that exceeds its source material, even if some fanboys can’t bring themselves to admit that.
They’ll lament the humour, the “populist appeal”, the famous actors in the roles, and the happ(ier) ending, while ignoring the outstanding performances, stronger script and technically sumptuous direction from Martin Scorsese.
It’s as though the fanboys want to assert their film hipster-dom by declaring that the original is not only better, but that they saw it first, and before you. But Scorsese wins out on this one; the fanboys are totally wrong.
Which movies do you have a fanboyish disregard for? Let us know in the comments below.